We live in a modern world full of stress. Sometimes caused by our environment, sometimes we create it ourselves!
Performance at work, personal relationships, sexual performance, family concerns and other activities are all factors creating some level of stress. When we have to work with tight schedules, deadlines, meetings, and other extracurricular activities putting pressure on our lifestyle, then the level of stress may simply be too high. Excessive stress can have a serious impact on your marital life and your sexual health.
What happens when you are stressed? Your heart speeds up and your head pounds. Then, your pituitary gland releases a certain hormone, which in turn triggers your adrenal glands to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, into your bloodstream. Consequently, several of your body's functions are disrupted. The potential side effects are numerous : stomachache, diarrhea, anxiety, headache, fatigue, etc. You also tend to feel hunger pangs resulting to weight gain.
Stress also weakens your immune system increasing your exposure to sicknesses such as colds, infections, sleep disorders, skin problems, depression, and loss of sexual libido. Stress also has a definite impact on the aging process. According to a study published by University of California at San Francisco, chronically stressed women displayed chromosomal changes characteristic of increased aging.
Doctors found out that the ends of the chromosomes of the female patients participating in the study were shorter than women exposed to a lower level of stress. Ends of the chromosomes are called telomeres and these shorten as we age. Therefore, their length is a measure of aging. When telomeres have reached their minimum lenght, they die out which is evidenced by organ failure and skin wrinkles, to name a few examples. Are you convinced by the need to lower the level of stress in your life? Here is what you can do about it : take care of your body and live a healthy lifestyle. Have adequate rest, a balanced diet and regular exercise. Relax and learn to enjoy your life.
Have hobbies to help you relax and distract you from more stressful activities. Gardening, reading, sports are all good examples. You can also engage in activities where you can socialize and share your interests and concerns. You probably have interests or talents hiding in you ... you just don't know about it! Join a community, group, club or organization. Follow dance, aerobics or singing lessons. What about piano or guitar? Here's a popular one : karate lessons or some other martial art. Volunteer for local charities or fund raising organizations. Learn deep-breathing exercises and practice meditation or Yoga. Visit the gym regularly or join a fitness group that will help you stay fit and healthy. Be physically active ... don't do excessive training but get your body to work. It will loosen up your muscles and calm you down. Your mental, physical and sexual health will benefit greatly.
Speaking of the mental aspect you will feel more positive about things and tend to be less pessimistic. You should throw in some variations in your life : have a new hairdo, change your wardrobe, and take the time to enjoy nature's wonders such water, birds, flowers, etc. Sounds simplistic? Not at all ... try to sit by a lake or river for 30 minutes and tell me you don't feel more relaxed. Smile at people you meet in the mall or on the streets, you will be surprised at their reaction. Regular medical check-ups should also be part of your routine to preserve your good health. In periods of higher stress this is particularly pertinent. Don't hesitate to get help and advice. Seek out professional assistance, support of your partner-in-life, family and friends.
You may need to revise your priorities in life and reconsider your lifestyle. If needed, consult with a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. Whatever you do, talk about your situation to someone, if you feel your stress level is getting out of hand. Life is full of challenges, ups and downs. You have to know how to deal with them and approach situations from a positive angle. Even more important, is to control your environment as opposed to to enduring it. A stress-free life can definitely add up to your years, in number and in quality.
By Marc Deschamps Editor
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